As a freelance writer, I was already working from home full-time when COVID-19 shuttered offices across the country. So, while it was business as usual for me, it was anything but for the 3.4 million Canadian employees who relocated to their home offices in April. For many, it was their first taste of the pros and cons of working from home (or “WFH”). According to a Leger survey, the vast majority (89%) of survey respondents say it has been a positive experience. Indeed, some are so happy with their WFH arrangement that they never want to go back into an office. About a third (32%) stated they’d start looking for ways to work from home if their managers ordered them to come back on-site.
If you count yourself among this new breed of WFH converts, read on to find out the top work-from-home jobs in Canada, how you can pivot toward permanent remote work and the many benefits of working from home—including how it can save you money.
Best Work-From-Home Jobs in Canada
University Magazine recently updated its ranking of the best work-from-home jobs in Canada for 2020, with customer service rep and research interviewer taking the top two spots. But if chatting on the phone all day isn’t your thing, here are some other good options on the list:
- Teacher/tutor: If you’re patient and good at explaining things, you might be a candidate for teaching English online to non-native speakers. Similarly, if you have a subject area of expertise and you’re good with kids, online tutors are currently in demand.
- Bookkeeper: If you are skilled with numbers and like using spreadsheets and accounting software, this work-from-home job helping businesses and professionals manage their financial records, invoices, etc., might be for you.
- Social media manager: Many organizations still need help leveraging social media, with opportunities both in remote staff roles and contract positions.
- Virtual assistant: This can be a great work-from-home job for those who are self-motivated, organized, professional, can write clear and concise emails and are available during usual office hours.
- Transcriptionist: While there are software programs that convert audio to text, they aren’t reliable — especially when jargon and specialized terms are used. Many companies and individuals will pay to have interviews, speeches or other recorded audio accurately transcribed.
- Proofreader: If English was always your best subject in school, you have a keen eye for detail and you can’t help yourself from correcting other people’s grammatical and spelling errors, you may be a natural-born proofreader—a job that you can typically perform from anywhere.
- Software engineer: Obviously, you need some fairly specialized skills for this role, but it is one that is in demand at many companies. As such, they may be more likely to offer a WFH arrangement to promising candidates.
- Writer/editor/blogger: If you have a talent for stringing words together and like to research different topics, I can attest that this is an excellent work-from-home job!
How You Can Pivot to Remote Work Permanently
If you’ve been working from home during the pandemic and would like to make the arrangement permanent, submit a proposal to your supervisor and HR manager outlining what the benefits are to the employer. For example, include data showing how much your output increased while working from home, or how you saved the company money by using fewer sick days and/or your own supplies. There’s no guarantee they’ll let you continue working from home, but your chances are much better if you can show how the arrangement is mutually beneficial.
If your current work must be done in person, look to transition to one of the job categories listed above based on your skills and experience. Admin Slayer, for example, is a Canadian company that hires and contracts out virtual assistants and virtual bookkeepers. If you need to upgrade your qualifications, look for online courses and certification programs that can be completed from home.
Finally, you can start your own WFH service business—whether that be tutoring, transcription work, or any of the other ideas suggested above.
Pros and Cons of Working From Home
Nothing is 100% good or bad—and working from home is no different. While I personally love the WFH life, I’ll admit I’m somewhat of an introvert and enjoy having the house to myself. (Which actually makes working from home a little tougher for me these days, since my husband and son are also here working and doing online school, too. Of course, others might consider that a plus!)
Here are the top 5 advantages and disadvantages of working from home.
- No commute. A 2017 survey found that the average Canadian spent 53 minutes commuting to work each day. That’s a lot of hours (and money!) you can save by working from home.
- Lower expenses. You’ll not only save on public transit fees, gas and parking by working from home—but also on everything from clothing to food—as outlined below.
- Flexible schedule. This depends, in part, on the type of work that you do, but many WFH jobs can be performed at any time of day. So, if you’d rather hit the grocery store during off-peak hours when your shop will take half as long, and then make up the work time later, you can.
- No dress code. Need we say more?
- Increased productivity. If you have the right personality type (self-motivated, focused, etc.) you will probably complete more work in less time than you did in the office. That’s because modern workplaces, with their open-concept, sardine-like layouts, create endless interruptions and make it more difficult to concentrate.
- Being out of the loop. If the majority of your colleagues work in the office, you could miss out on important information or assignments that come up informally. This is usually less of a problem when most of your colleagues also work remotely.
- Procrastination. If you are prone to procrastination, and you don’t have regular deadlines for your work, you may find the days pass by without getting much done.
- Working all the time. On the other hand, it can be hard to separate work hours from downtime when it all happens in the same space. If you’re not good at setting limits, your work-life balance could disappear.
- Loneliness. This can be a big problem, especially for extroverts who feed off the energy of being around other people.
- No infrastructure. The quality of your home internet may pale in comparison to the lightning-fast internet connection at the office. Similarly, you can’t just stroll over to the office copier to scan and email a document.
Tips to Save Money While Working From Home
Most people who work from home automatically save money in a few obvious ways, such as eliminating the costs of their commute, spending less on work clothes and dry cleaning, and eating food from their kitchens (as opposed to buying pricier lunches and coffees on the go). But then there are less apparent methods of saving money while working from home, including the following:
- Sell one of your vehicles. If you and your spouse/partner each have a car, working from home might mean you can now make do with just one. That would save you on one vehicle’s car payments, insurance and maintenance costs.
- Ask for a reduction in your auto insurance premiums. If you aren’t using your vehicle to commute to work, you may be eligible for a better rate on your car insurance. Online platforms can help you search for the best car insurance rates out there.
- Move somewhere cheaper. When you work from home, the world is your oyster. You will no longer be limited to living within a reasonable commuting distance of your work. Consider selling your home or renting in other less-expensive communities you might like to live in. Just keep in mind that some more remote areas do not have adequate internet infrastructure, which may be a deal-breaker.
- Get a business bank account and credit card. If you have your own business, you can deduct the costs of operating the business from your taxable income. Those expenses will be a lot easier to keep track of if you have a separate account and credit card that you use exclusively for business purposes. Take a look at the best business credit cards available for advice on how to find the right one for you.
- Take advantage of tax savings. If you’re self-employed or a commissioned employee, you may be able to deduct part of the costs of your workspace: from your home insurance to your property taxes to heating costs. But even if you’re an employee who is working from home, you may still be eligible for tax deductions on items you paid for out of pocket as required by the company to complete your work. But first, you’ll need to ask your employer to fill out CRA form T2200, which allows employees to deduct employment expenses from their income. Make sure you get all the deductions you’re entitled to by using tax preparation software like TurboTax.
The Last Word on How to Work from Home
Whether you’ve been working from home throughout the pandemic and like the flexibility it provides, or you’ve been eyeing your WFH friends with jealousy, there are plenty of opportunities to work remotely on a permanent basis. Talk to your boss about continuing your arrangement or look to pivot to one of the top work-from-home jobs in Canada. Either way, you’ll enjoy the benefits of working from home and saving more money.